I have a dream. August 28 1963 – 2016

On 28 August 1963 a man had a dream, shared by two hundred fifty thousand people, of which only fifty thousand were African-American, who thronged the Lincoln Memorial, supported by a march that marked the history of civil rights in the US. The dream of Martin Luther King, expressed by a 17 minutes long speech, was that of an American people united for civil rights.

It was no an accident that those words, still present and strong, which gave strength and hope to the oppressed and scared the oppressors, were pronounced in front of the memory of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States of America, that made history with the abolition of slavery.

Martin Luther King called for work and freedom, called for the abolition of racial segregation. In 1963 there were still laws known as the “Jim Crow” based on racism: the society’s civil rights could not stand neither on the standards issued of the American Declaration of Independence, nor on the Rights of Humans and Citizen, but on skin color.

After more than 50 years the famous speech of Martin Luther King and the end of racial segregation, has been eradicated racial hatred, with its prejudices and its terror?

The dream of Martin Luther King does not seem to be realized. Half a century after him, the young African-Americans still fear the racially motivated violence. Just think, in the US, to the demonstrations that often follow the deaths of African-Americans killed by police.

Globalization, about which so much we talk, does not seem to be able to join but surely creates phenomena of hatred and intolerance. There is a ‘social pathology’, anachronistic, towards each other, the different, the immigrant, the stranger. Of this social pathology, which is exploited by roughly every modern election campaign, we can grasp a political and instrumental meaning starting from the questions that arises the French philosopher Étienne Balibar: “Can it be said, in the course of an election campaign, that there are “too many immigrants”or “too many non-EU immigrants”, or too many “blacks”, or too many  “Arabs”, or too many “Muslims”, or too many “Jews”? Or say that they are “not comparable” to the cultural patterns and institutions of “our house”?”

It becomes necessary to analyze the present of racism, with the understanding that this is not something belonging to the past; it is crucial to think of his new identity.

Today, America has a black president but a Republican candidate for the White House strongly racist and sexist; Europe today is open and humane, but puts vetoes on how a foreign and Muslim woman can dress; France, fair of the principles of freedom on which was founded, bends so unnatural fear of the foreigner; suppressed and overwhelmed Eastern countries that suppress and overwhelm; the anti-Semitic stereotype is still relevant and persistent; bully sexism affects politics, the workplace, but also the sports field, like on the past Olympics of Rio.

The march of 28 August 1963, and the dream of a man have somehow changed America, but the way to go for a better world and devoid of inequalities is still long. “Let freedom ring out”, as 53 years ago, would allow us access to a modern Enlightenment, capable of fighting the medieval darkness of values and feelings of this our globalized society.


Erand Haruni